TIME FOR THE TRAILS

THE BEST SHOES FOR HIT­TING OFF-ROAD TER­RAIN THIS WIN­TER ARE RE­VIEWED BY AW’S PAUL FREARY

Athletics Weekly - - Performance -

Salomon – Sense Ride

Price: £110.00

Stock­ist: salomon.com

A de­par­ture from the typ­i­cal trail shoes by this brand, this model is de­signed to take you straight from the front door to the hills.

The deep cush­ion­ing has a road run­ning shoe like feel to it and with an 8mm drop is easy to get along with straight out of the box. The out­sole, while not the most ag­gres­sive, works well, with nicely spaced lugs that are deep enough to grip most sur­faces with­out feel­ing too harsh for firmer ter­rain.

Like all of Salomon’s shoes, the up­per is very well made and feels durable and hard wear­ing. Thanks to the mesh con­struc­tion it feels great around the foot and with the fa­mil­iar draw­string fas­ten­ing cre­ates a good fit that is easy to ad­just.

We say: A per­fect first time trail

shoe.

361 de­grees – Ortega 2

Price: £99.99

Stock­ist: 361eu­rope.com

Thanks to the brand’s ‘Quik­foam’ cush­ion­ing tech­nol­ogy, this shoe has a very cush­ioned feel for a trail shoe. The plush mid­sole has a def­i­nite ‘spring-like’ feel on toe-off and it re­sponds well to all but the harsh­est of trails. The evenly spread out­sole pat­tern is some­thing of a com­pro­mise be­tween a reg­u­lar road shoe and a deeply lugged trail shoe, but that makes it more ver­sa­tile.

It’s not the most lux­u­ri­ous shoe we tried, but it’s well made and uses durable ma­te­ri­als that pro­vide plenty of pro­tec­tion as well as be­ing rel­a­tively wa­ter­re­sis­tant.

We say: Good value, ver­sa­tile model.

New Bal­ance – Fresh Foam Gobi Trail v2

Price: £80.00

Stock­ist: new­bal­ance.co.uk

Not the most ag­gres­sive trail run­ning shoe around, but def­i­nitely one of the most com­fort­able thanks to the Fresh­foam cush­ion­ing.

The light­weight, one-piece mid­sole is sim­i­lar to that used in sev­eral of the brands road run­ning mod­els and as such does a great job of soak­ing up the im­pact.

The out­sole uses an ‘all over grip’ pat­tern and the uni­form na­ture of it means it’s equally at home on the road as it is on park­land trails.

It’s not go­ing to cut it in deep mud, but what it does of­fer is a good all-round per­for­mance per­haps for some­one look­ing for his or her first off-road shoe.

We say: Great value and a good choice for a week­end parkrun.

INOV-8 – Ro­clite 305

Price: £125.00

Stock­ist: inov-8.com

A re­ally adapt­able shoe, this will han­dle vary­ing ter­rain with ease thanks to its great cush­ion­ing and out­sole. The 8mm heel drop gives it the feel of a reg­u­lar road run­ning shoe and makes it com­fort­able par­tic­u­larly for longer off-road train­ing.

The deeper mid­sole also has a re­spon­sive feel, ab­sorb­ing im­pact and pro­vid­ing a nice push off. Lugs on the out­sole of­fer ex­cel­lent trac­tion, and at 6mm deep, are as ag­gres­sive as you’ll find on any run­ning shoe, yet man­age to grip with­out the feel­ing of harsh­ness some­times found in trail run­ning soles.

The multi-di­rec­tion de­sign of the lugs helps re­tain grip on un­pre­dictable ter­rain while the flex­i­bil­ity of the sole means that mud and de­bris aren’t col­lected in the sole as you go. On the up­per, the stand­out fea­ture is the soft and plush feel – it has the com­fort of a road shoe yet still man­ages to re­tain pro­tec­tive fea­tures such as a re­in­forced toe bumper that also add to the dura­bil­ity.

The ‘Adapter­web’ lac­ing in­cor­po­rates into the mid­foot of the shoe and holds the foot se­curely in place how­ever harsh the ter­rain.

We say: A go-any­where shoe with great grip.

ON – Cloud­ven­ture Mid­top

Price: £130.00

Stock­ist: on-run­ning.com

Our testers have praised all of this brand’s of­fer­ings, with the fit of the up­per be­ing a stand­out fea­ture for many. This shoe was no dif­fer­ent.

“For a trail shoe the mid­top style is a great de­sign, it helps hold the foot in place as well as keep­ing the mud and gravel out of the shoe,” said one tester.

In many as­pects, the shoe is sim­i­lar to the reg­u­lar Cloud­ven­ture model, with a 6mm heel drop in the mid­sole which fea­tures the cloud cush­ion­ing tech­nol­ogy. It’s most at home on firmer trails, with the out­sole lug pat­tern op­er­at­ing best on light gravel and the woodland paths where we tested it.

The shoe also re­tains a re­spon­sive feel and de­spite the ‘boot’ de­sign it’s light and flex­i­ble and easy to push the pace in.

The up­per fit is su­perb, neatly tai­lored and well made, with the high top de­sign of­fer­ing ad­di­tional sup­port around the an­kle for re­as­sur­ing se­cu­rity on the rougher ground.

We say: Per­fect for those want­ing a lit­tle more an­kle sup­port, the shoe’s fit

is out­stand­ing.

Hoka – Speed­goat 2

Price: £114.99

Stock­ist: hokao­neone.eu

The orig­i­nal Speed­goat shoe was this brand’s first se­ri­ous off-road model with ag­gres­sive grip and, of course, the now fa­mil­iar deep cush­ioned mid­sole. It had a large num­ber of fans, but its nar­row fit wasn’t for ev­ery­one. This ver­sion is vastly dif­fer­ent in all but name.

With a wide mid­sole, which cre­ates a more sta­ble foot­ing and a wider fit­ting toe box, the shoe should ap­peal to a much wider range of run­ners. We thought the shoe more sim­i­lar to the brand’s pop­u­lar road model, the Clifton, in terms of its over­all shape and fit.

The up­per uses dis­tinctly softer ma­te­ri­als and the cush­ion­ing deep and soft – great for mile af­ter mile on firmer trails. The out­sole keeps its Vi­bram rub­ber, with deep lugs for good trac­tion. The shoe is light and re­mark­ably flex­i­ble for such a deeply cush­ioned model.

We say: Great cush­ion­ing, plush feel and good grip, a per­fect long dis­tance off-roader.

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